“As a West Indian woman, I am no stranger to underrepresentation. Countless fields still struggle to fulfill the minority and gender element needed for true inclusivity and diversified perspectives. I battle imposter syndrome, and I know I’m not alone. Because I haven’t seen someone who looks like me in my dream jobs, I automatically defer to rejecting myself from them. I share this because I believe it’s important to unite and help each other through our struggles. My central goal, for any career, will always be about giving a voice to the voiceless. To break barriers so that other people like myself can believe in their abilities to chase their dreams.”
Neither of Shivani Persaud’s parents went to college. Her mother is just now going back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Years ago, they shared the same immigrant dream of moving across the Atlantic from Guyana to the States. They did it all out of a desire, a fervent one for a better future for the family. Growing up, Shivani recalls seeing her parents working tirelessly and uncomplainingly. For Shivani and her family, receiving a college education, and soon to be a degree, is not only a moment of pride but also “validation for the days, months, and years that my parents have devoted for the family.”
"Non-traditional, minority, and first-generation students are often faced with many issues, responsibilities, and pressure when it comes to completing a college education.” Shivani laments not taking advantage of all the events and activities that UCF offered before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, she is not done with UCF just yet.
Reflecting upon her undergraduate experience at UCF, from attending the Honors Symposium to roaming around in the halls of BHC, Shivani concludes that the College has given her a sense of warmth and belonging that nowhere else can replicate. “I remember applying to a political internship and needing guidance on the application process, and soon learning that our deans were the perfect people to guide me,” she narrates, “but they didn’t know me! Why should I try?” “But that’s the whole point of BHC!” she explains, “We all want to get to know each other and uplift each other in this community. Dean Sheila and Marty have been incredibly supportive of my dreams since freshmen year, and I couldn’t ask for better mentors. When I get advising, Laura and I would start talking about our alma mater in a shared nostalgia. My Team Leader from Honors Symposium, Abdullah Saqib, is now a treasured friend and someone I look up to.”
In terms of future career plans and life goals, Shivani desires to work in media publications or communications in the national security sector, hopefully with the U.S. government in D.C. However, as a Senior majoring in Journalism, she contends working for national news outlets, such as the New York Times, would be equally lovely. And somewhere down the line is graduate school and a private flying license: “I think a sense of adventure will define anything I do after graduation. I just want to do so much.”